26 October 2001

Promote British agriculture

FARMING and its ancillary industries need to promote what is good about British agriculture or face a future of more ill thought-out legislation, red tape and spiralling administrative costs.

That was the message from Roger Cook, director of NOAH, who told delegates that a viable farming sector was essential to maintain the fortunes of many ancillary industries, including animal medicines.

"Half of all animal medicine sales are to farm stock including fish and horses, so not only do producers need us, but we also need them."

When farming was under attack other industries suffered, he warned. The time had come for the defence of farming against a barrage of attacks by pressure groups pursuing their own agenda.

"Too many people havecynically seized on the opportunity provided by BSE, listeria, salmonella, and now F&M to advance their own cause.

"Sometimes it seems we are not suffering so much from food poisoning but mind poisoning," he added.

Regulators and politicians feel obliged to respond. "More scares, more demands that something must be done – more red tape, more regulation. More costs for manufacturers, suppliers and health professionals to be passed on to the producer. There has to be a better way.

"We are told the consumer wants safe, reliable, cheap food. But producers cannot deliver that when they have to spend one day a week form filling and have the lowest incomes for a century.

"EU and UK authorities need to spend some of the fees and taxes we pay on being positive, telling the public how well they are being cared for and protected. Take a look at what the water industry watchdog has done as an example," he suggested. &#42